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Baystate Health’s Climate Resiliency Efforts

A Message from Baystate Health President & CEO Mark A. Keroack, MD, MPH

Mark Keroack hiking in Vermont with his daughterCombating climate change caused by greenhouse gases is the defining challenge of our generation. Climate change is already causing an increase in severe weather events, destruction of habitats, mass migrations, and extinctions. Forecasts are calling for even more severe impacts, affecting human health in terms of heart disease, asthma, chronic lung disease, malnutrition, and heat-related illnesses.

With the United States accounting for about 8.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 10% of that coming from the healthcare sector, Baystate Health is not only taking this public health threat seriously but also taking bold steps toward a greener future. These measures include looking at our Environmental, Social, and Governance Impact—or how Baystate Health can improve the quality of our natural environment, strengthen the rights and well-being of the communities we serve and employees, and fine-tune our oversight and management of our corporate entities while tracking our progress.

In 2022, Baystate Health signed a pledge issued by the newly formed White House Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, promising to report on our progress and setting targets to cut our greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and go carbon neutral by 2050. As we pursue this goal together, Baystate Health is a leader in governance in the healthcare sector and in the forefront, improving environmental sustainability.

This pledge is the most recent in a long list of sustainability efforts and milestones from Baystate Health. A Sustainability Council was established in 2014 and focused initially on energy and resource conservation and later implemented energy-efficient building systems. The council also began to measure and benchmark our performance by joining Practice Greenhealth, a consortium of health systems that compares performance across a wide variety of measures, generating report cards that help us track our progress and identify opportunities.

In 2018, Baystate Medical Center opened its Cogeneration Plant, replacing 50-year-old boilers powered by oil with a natural gas turbine that now generates most of the electricity for the medical center. This reduces our greenhouse gases by 10,000 metric tons per year, which is the equivalent of taking 2,400 vehicles off the road.

Climate change also affects the communities we serve, and Baystate Health’s efforts reflect a commitment to the improvement of social and environmental conditions there, too. Live Well Springfield, organized by the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, is a community consortium that includes Baystate Health, and in the last few years, has focused on the impact of climate change on low-income communities. It received a $600,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation that led to the development of a blueprint for climate resiliency and several ongoing initiatives.

Baystate Health has been recognized for its sustainability initiatives and work already completed. Practice Greenhealth awarded Baystate Medical Center its Environmental Excellence Award in 2021, recognizing it as one of the top performers in the country. The medical center also received the 2022 Climate Leader Award from Mass Save®, a statewide consortium of energy producers and utilities.

While such accolades do not indicate an end to our work, they do point to our progress and commitment to championing climate change in all that we do. Baystate Health has a full slate of projects on the horizon that will continue to mitigate our environmental impact while prioritizing patient care and well-being.

I encourage you to learn more about Baystate Health’s efforts to go carbon neutral and hope you’ll join us in introducing environmentally friendly practices into your everyday life. The work of climate resiliency is critically important to fulfilling our mission and to our overall future.

Mark A. Keroack, MD, MPH, President & CEO, Baystate Health

(Photo above: Mark Keroack, MD, MPH, hiking in Vermont with his daughter, Elise)